Rivka felt caged within the bulky veil of silk petals that she wore. Her movements were jerky and self-conscious as she descended the slippery marble steps. She was clutching too tightly to the hand that escorted her, and she relied too much upon his guidance.
“Loosen your shoulders and look up,” he told her softly from beneath his mask.
She looked up for a moment and insecure fear was apparent. She slipped as she reached the floor, but her escort held her upright.
“We’ll work on that later,” he said, “Don’t worry about them.”
With that last bit of advice, he left her, a timid child. She quickly glanced around the room and gently made her way to a table of fruits. How could she not worry about them? They knew who she was. She was dark and hairless, though pale powder and a headdress of dark silk threads tried to hide that. She stood at the table, staring at the fruits with wide, gray eyes. She heard a whisper and a giggle, and looked up at a group of girls. They had nothing in common except wealth. The youngest were eight, the oldest were twenty-two, the prettiest were like fairies, and the ugliest were like trolls.
“What is a slave girl’s business in that gown?” one asked.
“Why do you bother trying to look like you have wealth?” another asked.
“What did you do for your master to dote on you so?” the ugliest insinuated.
“He brought her as a toy,” the eldest teased, “for his pleasure.”
“You came in with a knight,” one said, “Sir Dragonclaw, wasn’t it? Why did he abandon you at the stair? So he could speak with his friends without embarrassment?”
Rivka’s stare hardened and she drew herself up to her full height. Her posture was regal as she envisioned herself in a future of wealth and silken robes of red and purple.
“Your hands are soft and smooth, but ‘ere a year has passed your knees will be red and sore,” Rivka spoke boldly. The girls were indignant but confused, and Rivka walked away with newfound nobility. It faded as her vision faded, but her eyes were now up and her gait was smooth.
Her confidence carried her to her master’s side, where she lightly brushed his hand with hers. He glanced at her and smiled, noticing the change in her stature. His training would have to begin now.
The sun was just beginning to go down as they left in a carriage drawn by two large geldings. It was raining and Dragonclaw had told the driver to hurry. They came to a sudden halt and Rivka could see anger rising in her master. She looked through the window and saw a young woman hurrying across the street. Dragonclaw was about to shout, but Rivka stayed his voice with a hand.
“They have the right of way,” she told him gently.
“We had the power to crush her, she should have let us go,” he growled.
Rivka looked at him angrily and hit him.
“What are you trying to tell me this time?” he yelled, “Why can’t you just say it?”
‘Fool,’ she thought as the carriage began to move again.